BC tip: The Draft House – Retweeting from across the group

A UK-based pubs company’s approach to local Twitter feeds could be adapted by corporates.

BC tip - Draft House.png

The Feature

The Draft House has a group Twitter feed – @DraftHouseUK. Each of the pubs in the group has its own Twitter handle, based on its location eg, DH Tower Bridge, DraftHouse WB, DraftHouse MK, etc.

All of the group's Twitter accounts bear the group logo as an identifier but in a different colour to help to easily differentiate at a glance.

The group account regularly retweets each pub’s tweets on the group-level account.

The Takeaway

The Draft House approach is a simple way to ensure that a group-level Twitter account is always busy, interesting and reflective of the whole group.

In a corporate context, this approach could be applied to country, regional, division or individual Twitter accounts.


BC tip: Anglo American - Making it easy to tweet

A mining giant invites users to tweet the company directly from its corporate website.

The Feature

A ‘Talk to us’ button on Anglo American’s corporate website prompts visitors to tweet the company directly without having to go to the Twitter site. 

There is a panel on the home page with the most recent tweet, prominent buttons to retweet or reply, and a text box already addressed to @AngloAmerican for messages. Clicking on ‘Talk to us’ below the box calls up a pop-up window for tweeting the message. 

The button appears throughout the site. In addition, a panel in the universal footer has the latest tweet and the Retweet and Reply icons.

The Takeaway

We have not seen this kind of attempt by a B2B company, in a contentious industry, to encourage people to tweet from within the corporate website (rather than send people to Twitter to do it).

A quick look at Anglo’s Twitter feed shows a healthy amount of activity. We don’t know whether this is down to the website tweeting feature, but regardless it sends the wider message that ‘we are open to hear from you’.


BC tip: BP - Quick Twitter insight

The energy giant uses Twitter for some fast, free insight into its followers.

The Site

BP sent two tweets in quick succession on September 12th, each saying, ‘We’ve just reached 30,000 followers! So why are you following us?’, with a link to a survey embedded in the tweets. Users that clicked on the survey had four options: ‘I want a job at BP’; ‘Interest in the industry’; ‘BP works in my community’; ‘A recommendation or RT’.

The survey lasted 24 hours, and in the end one tweet garnered 123 votes and the other 165. Results were similar – about 40% were following for job prospects; about 50% because of an interest in the industry, with only small percentages saying BP worked in their community or because of a recommendation.

The Takeaway

There are obvious limitations to this approach – a small sample, only four choices of answer, etc – and it should not replace more sophisticated measurement and evaluation, but it was probably not meant to.

There can be value in simplicity, and BP’s Twitter survey is an interesting idea – quick to set up and run, giving potentially useful insight at no cost.


CEOs should tweet - if they know how to

Lucy Kellaway writes one of her usual engaging columns in the FT today. In case you can't read it (it's for subscribers, though there is limited free access),  I'll summarise what she says. She starts by referring to an Insead ranking of the CEOs who use Twitter most effectively, combining a score for quality and quantity. Insead runs a piece on this that claims that '82 per cent of consumers are more likely to trust a company whose CEO engages on social media' and '78 per cent of professionals prefer working for a company who leadership is active on social media channels'. I wonder where those percentages come from?

Anyway, Ms Kellaway concentrates on the leaders in the #Twitterinfluence list, and has fun with them. Tim Cook of Apple writes the blandest tweets and still manages thousands of 'likes'. Why, she asks? She points out that he tweets only rarely - 40 times this year: which makes me wonder what the 'quantity' part of Insead's research consists of. Richard Branson manages to outbland Mr Cook: 'Talk less - smile more', while Rupert Murdoch ('who used to make the elementary mistake of tweeting his opinions about things') got married and stopped tweeting. 

These, Ms Kellaway says, 'are rotten role models for regular executives', because others are not as they are. The only 'regular' CEO in the top 10 is Microsoft's Satya Nadella, who tweets in tedious marketing speak. Marissa Mayer of Yahoo tweeted the company results along with a picture of her baby girls, and got lots of likes for that. From all these examples Ms Kellaway concludes that for all but business superstars, 'there's no point in tweeting unless you are prepared to pimp your kids'.

Although this is all good fun, I think she is wrong - and an example she gives that I haven't mentioned says why. Elon Musk tweets and 'is rather good at it'. She is right: he posts pictures of rockets taking off with 'Woohoo!' as the only comment, and links to bits and pieces he finds intriguing. Ms Kellaway says he can do this because he does exciting things like launch rockets. I disagree - he can do it because he knows what will get people's attention. You don't need rockets to do that.

Bob Lutz used to be vice chairman of General Motors. He's retired now, but used to write on GM's Fastlane blog. A fond obituary for the blog quotes some of his pith: 'I guess it depends whether your have your own personality or whether you are a lemming-like follower of current trends'. 'People will exercise the freedom to buy the vehicle they want, V8 engine and all'. 'Do the best product you can do, and it if it looks better and drives better than the other guy's, you win'.

You don't have to count the characters to see that Mr Lutz was born for Twitter, just born a bit too early. He was boss at a thoroughly mainstream company, so he wasn't Rupert Murdoch, yet like Mr Murdoch he said what he thought. Punchy language, strong views and being prepared to broadcast them to the world would have made him a tweeter as powerful as Mr Musk or Mr Murdoch. There must, surely, be other bosses who can do the same. 

David Bowen

Twitter is the new newswire

Almost exactly nine years ago, I spent an evening discussing the future of corporate reporting with the European head of one of the world’s major business news wires – the organisations that quoted companies were, back then, obliged to use for disseminating results and other market-sensitive information.

The big mistake that her firm’s rivals were making, she said, was to obsess about competing with each other. “In the long term, we all have one common enemy – and that's Google,” she declared.

Her point, back at that dinner in 2006, was that investor relations teams soon wouldn't need to pay companies like hers buckets of money to ensure that their results information is distributed in ways that meet global regulatory requirements. Thanks to developments like eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL), Google would provide the mechanism for that – just like it does for other forms of information.

Nine years on, the wire chief’s fears are finally proving well founded – but it turns out that she picked the wrong enemy.

Earlier this month, Goldman Sachs cut out the news wire middleman and distributed its quarterly earnings statement by publishing it on its corporate website and promoting it via its Twitter feed.

Yet why has it taken so long for a really big name company to do this? After all, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) gave its blessing for corporate websites to be used for material corporate disclosure way back in 2008.

Well, back then the SEC emphasised that if companies wanted to publish market-moving material on their websites, they needed to make investors aware that that’s where to look for it. So in terms of distribution, the news wires still had an advantage – they could take care of “pushing” information across the markets – something that a website could not do on its own.

But as Goldman Sachs proved this month, a Twitter feed can provide a corporate website with the spreading agent it needs to make the business wire redundant at last (see the SEC’s guidance on social media disclosure here).

If this trend catches on, it's good news for corporate web managers and their colleagues in the IR team. They will have more control over how their results and other announcements are reported – and fewer middlemen to pay.

Not such good news for the news wires, though. Or Google. 

- Scott Payton